Heroes

What do these 6 stars have in common? They fund sea vigilantes who take down evil sea criminals.

Next up in badass things old school celebs are doing that you didn't even know about ...

What do these 6 stars have in common? They fund sea vigilantes who take down evil sea criminals.
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Bob Barker. Beloved host of "The Price Is Right" from 1972 to 2007...

He famously ended every show with a reminder to spay and neuter your pets because he loves animals. GIF via "The Price Is Right."


...and partial bankroller to a group of vigilantes that have been chasing down evil criminals on the high seas.

Law enforcement on the high seas is lax. And there's a LOT of money to be made from taking advantage of that. It's not uncommon for fishing ships to go rogue, fish illegally, and seriously abuse both the environment and human rights with little regard.

So the current reality is this: Bob Barker and other celebrities are putting their money into a group called Sea Shepherd Global — because if governments won't protect the seas, Sea Shepherd sure will.

With vigilante justice...

"[Sea Shepherd] describes itself as an eco-vigilante group, flies a variation of the Jolly Roger on its ships and often cites the motto, 'It takes a pirate to catch a pirate.' ... Sea Shepherd's goal was not just to protect a rapidly disappearing species of fish, its leaders said, but to show that flagrant violators of the law could be brought to justice." — Ian Urbina from The New York Times on Sea Shepherd

And boats bought by Bob Barker!

Note: This is the actual boat named "Bob Barker." I know. Shark! It looks so badass! Image by AussieLegend/Wikimedia Commons.

Recently, Sea Shepherd Global sailed Bob Barker's boat (appropriately named the Bob Barker) and trailed a boat called the Thunder, which was notorious for illegally fishing for Chilean sea bass — to the tune of $76 million in illegal sales in the past decade. The Bob Barker trailed the Thunder for over 100 days in the Arctic, and the chase ended when the Thunder sank.

"There is no way to stop it sinking." Stopped, The Thunder took its illegal evidence 2 miles down to the sea floor. The 4th Installment of The Outlaw Ocean: http://urbina.io/1KuY8Zz
A photo posted by Ian Urbina (@ian_urbina) on

It was dramatic. But that's how Sea Shepherd rolls.

So are we talking about a vigilante navy funded in part by famous people? Yes, we are.

And Bob's not the only patron. I looked into other famous folks involved in Sea Shepherd and found more than a few names I recognized! Sea Shepherd's board of advisors includes even more — Sean Penn, Linda Blair, Pierce Brosnan, and others!

Here are my favorite five:

1. Bob Barker

Image by Iaksge/Wikimedia Commons.

He bought a boat! And Sea Shepherd, the organization he bought it for, named it after him.

2. Sam Simon, co-creator of "The Simpsons"

Image by Matt Waldron/Wikimedia Commons.

Sam Simon was a famously big-hearted philanthropist. He largely funded the $2 million purchase of Sam Simon the boat, and the rest is Sea Shepherd history.


Image by Saberwyn/Wikimedia Commons.

Illegal-sea-bass, sea-chasing history.

While the Bob Barker was hot on the tail of the Thunder, the Sam Simon was helping out with fuel, supplies, and other things on the high, icy seas of Chilean sea bass territory.

3. Martin Sheen

Image by Damon D'Amato/Wikimedia Commons.

He's got a boat, too! It's mainly involved in dealing with the issue of plastic debris in the oceans. Where the government fails, President Bartlett steps in!

4. MacGyver!

Image by Themightyquill/Wikimedia Commons.

That is, Richard Dean Anderson, most famously known (to me) for playing MacGyver.

His pet cause is baby seals. He's worked with Sea Shepherd a lot to raise awareness around seal hunting.

5. Brigitte Bardot

Image by MGM/Wikimedia Commons.

She's got a Sea Shepherd boat too! It's an anti-whaling boat.


Image by AussieLegend/Wikimedia Commons.

Bardot went on a whaling trip with the founder of Sea Shepherd in 1977, and she's been involved ever since.

6. James Bond aka Sean Connery

Image via Rob Mieremet/Dutch National Archives/Wikimedia Commons.

He's on the International Advisory Board of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Welcome to 2015, where part of the ocean is kinda ruled by celebrities.

The chase of the Thunder wasn't the end. Until governments step up, Sea Shepherd Global will continue its vigilante justice on the Wild West-iest parts of the Earth's ocean.

Another pirate ship on Interpol's Most Wanted list was recently chased down by Sea Shepherd, which then got police to detain the ship in port in Thailand. Then one night, when the police weren't paying attention, the ship snuck away, back onto the high seas. *facepalm*

And until actual governments step up, the price is right ... on celebrity funded vigilante ocean justice.

And remember, no more Chilean sea bass! ;)

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by Tod Perry

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